Fake Online Casino Ad Scams Canadians, Should Americans Worry Too?

Atlantic Canadians hoping to try their luck at what appear to be new online casinos tied to the region’s only legal casinos are being warned the widely shared ads promoting hefty deposit bonuses are a scam.

Online scammers are using ads on Facebook and Instagram featuring Casino Nova Scotia and Casino New Brunswick branding to deceptively collect or “phish” for personal and financial details.

Great Canadian Entertainment (GCE) owns the targeted casinos. Chuck Keeling, GCE’s executive vice president of stakeholder engagement and community and social responsibility, confirmed the scam in a statement to CTV News.

We can confirm that these ads are fake.

Keeling told Bonus via email the company “can’t confirm any of the specifics around the scam in question.” However, GCE is encouraging those who have enquired to visit a scam alerts page on its website.

But, while this particular grift targeted Canada’s East Coast, Americans should be wary of similar scams. Although Bonus has not heard of one targeting US residents, state-by-state regulation of online gambling has created enough confusion about its legal status for would-be scammers to exploit.

Gambling Scams Know No Borders

Notably, in the Maritimes, the regional lottery provider, Atlantic Lottery Corp (ALC), operates the only legal online casino and sportsbook in the Atlantic provinces.

As a rule, in Canadaexcept Ontarioonly provincial lotteries can operate legal online gambling.

In the US, many states have even less access to legal gambling options.

At the same time, citizens (on both sides of the border) are not always aware of what legal gambling is available in their province or state. Black market, offshore providers tend to confuse things further by appearing legit.

In the US, where legal online casinos exist, regulations often require them to partner with brick-and-mortar facilities. That expectation could offer fraudsters chances to create fake online sites impersonating land-based brands in states that haven’t yet legalized online gambling.

It’s important to use caution when considering any gambling opportunity, particularly those encountered online or via social media.

Before trading personal or financial information for the promise of a lucrative bonus or other lures, start with some due diligence.

How to Be Sure an Online Gambling Site is Legit

The surest way to check whether a site is legitimate is to see if it’s listed as a licensee by the state gaming regulator. Trusted industry sources like Bonus can also be a useful tool. If we’ve covered a site’s launch or posted a review, you can be assured that it’s safe and legal.

However, scam artists are constantly upping their game, using realistic logos, legitimate payment icons, and misleading claims. So, before clicking what could be a malicious link, online phishing experts recommend doing your own online search and only connecting through a legal, vetted site.

Such advice is beneficial to US gamblers recently shown to be 2-3 times more likely to fall victim to fraud.

In its statement to CTV, Great Canadian urged caution.

Nova Scotians are urged to be vigilant about guarding their personal details and financial information online and to inspect ads closely for inconsistencies, errors, or signs that they’re from unofficial social media accounts. We also encourage Nova Scotians to report ads such as these using the social media platform’s tools for reporting scams.

That’s undoubtedly worthy advice for anyone interacting regularly online.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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